Turkey eyes Shakh Deniz gas, plans to be trader country

ANKARA – Turkey wants to buy some of the 21 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas from Azerbaijan’s Shakh Deniz gas field in its second phase of production, Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler told Reuters yesterday. The gas fields are being exploited for a pipeline that will pass through Turkey to Greece and on to Italy. Guler and Azeri Energy Minister Natik Aliyev made progress in talks this week in Ankara on launching the second phase of production before 2012. «The gas coming from Shakh Deniz will not only meet the needs of Greece and Italy but of Turkey too,» Guler told Reuters in an interview. «We can transfer surplus gas from the Turkey-Greece pipeline to Nabucco,» he said, stressing Turkey’s aim to be not only a transit state but also one involved in trading in the commodity. Production at the gas field in its first phase is expected to be 9.6 bcm from the fourth quarter in 2008. Pipeline construction delays have slowed down the transport of natural gas to Europe, but Turkey has said Shakh Deniz gas will reach Greece by September 15. The pipeline will then be extended to Italy. Turkey will take 15 percent of the gas coming through the pipeline for Greece and Italy and aims to follow a similar model with the second phase of the Shakh Deniz project, Guler said. The 4.6-billion-euro ($6.14 billion) Nabucco project, which aims to transport Caspian gas to Austria via Turkey and the Balkans, is seen as a way of reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian energy after Moscow cut off supplies to Ukraine and Belarus following political rows. Stakes, transit fees Guler said Turkey wants a stake in fields in countries that export natural gas via its territory and seeks transit fees and a share of the gas received by consumer nations. «In our energy policy, our aim is to implement agreements without disturbing or opposing anybody. Turkey is pursuing an active energy diplomacy not only on the east-west axis but also the north-south axis and has become an active player in the energy equation,» Guler said. Diversity of pipelines and of sources are equally important, he added. «We are especially hopeful about the explorations in the Black Sea. The latest work by Petrobras in the region is encouraging,» Guler said. Guler made clear Turkey’s determination to press ahead with exploration in the east Mediterranean amid tensions with Cyprus, which this week said it expects to issue licenses for hydrocarbon exploration at the end of this year. Cyprus has 11 offshore blocks up for exploration rimming the east Mediterranean island south to southwest. The plans have angered Turkey, which has no diplomatic relations with the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot government of the ethnically divided island. Ankara backs a breakaway Turkish-Cypriot enclave in the north of the island. Turkish Petroleum received offers from investors in a June 6 tender for oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean region. Guler denied that Turkey’s plans were meant as «retaliation» against Cyprus. «We are not in a process of competing with or retaliating against any country or company,» he said.